ANNA — A Wilson Health nurse was honored with a lifesaving award on Thursday after administering emergency first aid on an employee at Plastipak.
“The chain of survival couldn’t have happened much more textbook than it did on this call,” Lima Memorial Hospital EMS Manager Doug LaRue said. “This was a very lucky gentleman.”
The Trauma Run of the Year Award was given to Wilson Health Registered Nurse Amanda Schmerge, Plastipak’s Environmental, Health and Safety Manager Andy Slonkosky, and members of Anna Rescue. LaRue also nominated Schmerge, Slonkosky and Anna Rescue for the Ohio EMS Star of Life Award, which was accepted.
The employee at Plastipak had suffered a medical emergency from a work-related incident, and Slonkosky was first on the scene with an automated external defibrillator (AED) unit. As Slonskosky turned around to attend to the employee, he said Schmerge was already there hooking the employee up with her own AED unit. Schmerge administered CPR with aid from Slonskosky.
“I don’t even recall when you got the two shocks,” Slonskosky said to Schmerge. “We were just moving so fast, at the speed of thought.”
When Anna Rescue arrived, Clifford Damron took over with oxygen and a bag mask. Schmerge said they continued rescue efforts and monitoring the employee’s vitals until EMS arrived and was able to transport the employee to Lima Memorial Hospital.
“Amanda, you did a phenomenal job here. As I was reading their run report and, you know, just the emergency response team atmosphere you guys have there was quite remarkable in my eyes,” LaRue said. “That’s why you train, that’s why it’s important your company supports that type of atmosphere, because you never know when you’re going to need it in a true emergency. You guys did a phenomenal job, and that’s why we’re here today.”
Schmerge, who has been a nurse since 2003, is no stranger to responding to emergency situations. As one of the nurses who works on-site at Plastipak, she administers hearing tests, pre-hiring drug screenings, and first aid to injuries. Emergency situations like the one she responded to are few and far between at Plastipak.
“From the time that he was down to the time we had him back, it was four to five minutes, at most,” Schmerge said. “In a hospital setting, you’re prepared for things like that because of the nature of why they’re there. It’s completely different being in an off-site setting. That’s the first time in nine years of me being in off-site health nursing that’s happened, and I hope it’s the last time in my career.”
Despite the emergency at Plastipak being far outside the norm of what she’s used to at the plant, Scmerge was quick to act.
“You just go into a zone, and you do what you’re trained to do. Obviously there’s emotions mixed in with that. I remember thinking, ‘this person is my age, or younger’, and thinking, ‘this man can’t die today’,” Schmerge said. “I just immediately started praying. I believe your faith can mix with your career, and I believe in the power of prayer.”
According to Slonkosky, Plastipak has a contract with Wilson to have a nurse on site four days each week, for eight hours a day. They perform training, inspections with medical equipment, and making sure they have all the necessary supplies. The four strategically placed AED units at Plastipak, grab-and-go first aid kits, and emergency response training were key factors in saving the employee’s life.
“I know he’s doing well, he’s still working,” Slonkosky said when asked about the employee. “Within four to five days, they released him after doing a battery of tests. We made sure he was off for two weeks, and the company demonstrated some great compassion and leadership in taking care of the family’s needs.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.